Jun 12, 2008

Day 13 - New York

Because we couldn't do our laundry last night, we got up early so that we could do the job and head for sightseeing (the hotel only allow laundry between 8:00AM and 10:00PM so that the noise won't disturb other customers). The annoying thing was that the hotel wanted to do their laundry first thing in the morning, which meant that we could only start our laundry from after 9:00AM. Teruko and I thought that they should have their washing machine and have another just for customers. We only managed to nip out for sightseeing almost lunchtime, which was very frustrating considering the limited amount of time we had in New York.

The Times Square station, where we took a New York Subway from, is just like some of the big Tokyo Metro stations, except that there is no air conditioning for the former. I can now fully understand how complicated Tokyo Metro can be for foreign visitors. We got on Subway 1 down to the ferry port as we headed to the Statue of Liberty. The on-board air conditioning cooled us down nicely.

There was quite a large queue at the pier for the Statue of Liberty ferry, we were very lucky to go through the security and got on board very quickly. Although the sun is already very strong at midday, we decided to go up to the top level so that we get a good view and take some pictures of both Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. Blimey, what a stunning view we got from the cruise boat!

Once we arrived at the Statue of Liberty, the view was even better. Because it was still after 1PM, the sun was perfecty positioned not to affect our photoshooting. In fact, it did us a big favour! We didn't bother to go up to the statue because we didn't have a lot of time, but the cruise down here was definitely worth it!

After getting a drink from a stand at the pier for a rip-off tourist price, we started walking towards the World Trade Center Site. I must say the site turned out to be a lot more different from what I'd expected.

I was hoping there would be some sort of a memorial-type thing at the site, but there isn't. I knew they were at some point talking about even building a condo there, but it looks like they are now building a new World Trade Center targeting completion in 2012.

I remembered the day that 9/11, which really changed the whole world, happened. That day, I was at Anfield Stadium in Liverpool watching my beloved Liverpool FC's first European Cup game in 15 years. I still remember we had one minute silence while I didn't know what it was for since I was chatting to a few fans around me when announcement was made. When I got back to my house in Oxford and switched on TV early in the morning, I saw 'that picture'. It was still chilling to think and realise that thousands of innocent people lost their life prematured at this site. This is the third time Teruko has visited this site, and the whole thing still upsets her to this date.

We got on Subway to the Penn Station as we were going to the observatory at the Empire State Building. Apparently, it gets really busy here with a very long queue at peak times, but I felt that the length we had to walk through security, ticket office, and to the elevator was a bit too extreme. This was felt even more as I found out later that the escalator you take at the beginning is right across from the security, but blocked by walls and exit doors. I was a wee bit annoyed that the security said I cannot take my tripod up to the viewing deck because apparently “this is too big”. Once we got to the deck, we were mystified by a few people carrying a suitecase of reasonable size, which took way more space than my tripod would. Annoyance aside, we got a stunning view of New York and beyond from the deck. Fortunately for us, it was far from hazy, so we could get a very good view around New York. I wish we also had had some time going up there for the sunset and the night views.

As we were so hungry after only having a small brunch and tons of walk, we decided to stuff ourselves with sushi from the Monster Sushi, which is on the ground floor of our hotel building. Because of the name and we could tell that the place is not run by Japanese, we were a bit skeptical about the quality of sushi we would get. Although the 'Chirashidon' Teruko got is not really 'Chirashidon' in a Japanese standard, we were pleasantly surprised by the decent quality of fish and also the huge portion they served.

Both Teruko and I were really excited about going to see a show at the Broadway. Because both of us are familiar with the original film and music (and obviously my love for Olivia Newton-John), we decided that our first Broadway show would be Xanadu, which was a huge flop as a film but a huge success as a soundtrack. Because I got our tickets at half of a regular price from BroadwayBox.com, I was a tiny bit concerned about a scenario where the Haynes Theatre Boxoffice would say 'we don't have your reservation. You probably went to a bogus site' although I had done a lot of research to be safe. It turned out they indeed had our tickets – Woohoo!

The Xanadu is a comedy show that, while based on the original film and music, is taking the mickey out of the film version, the 80s, Olivia Newton-John's Australian accent, and all that to the level you cannot even imagine. I thought that the show was hilarious, and every character showed their unique attributes and played such a key role in making this show dynamic. I was pleased that Teruko also really enjoyed the show. I would say... I highly recommend this show! But don't expect to see a classic musical, because this show is a comedy!

After the show, we wandered around the Broadway Street to take in the atmosphere of downtown New York. It really felt like some parts of Tokyo, but with more traffic of cars and people.

Time is up for fun time in the Big Apple, and we are heading to Boston on an early morning train.

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